Jasper Jay's Bed Time Story
The Noisy Rogue
The Bed Time Story of Jasper Jay
Some of the feathered folk in the quiet pleasant valley said that old Mr. Crow was the noisiest bird in their neighborhood. But, I’m certain they were forgetting about Mr. Crow’s cousin, Jasper Jay. And it was not only in summer, either, that Jasper’s shrieks and laughter woke the echoes. Since it was his habit to spend his winters right there in Farmer Gable’s young pines, near the foot of Great Mountain, on many a cold morning Jasper’s ear splitting “jay, jay!” rang out on the frosty air.
At that season Jasper often visited the farm building, in the hope of finding a few kernels of corn scattered about the door of the corn crib. But it seemed to make little difference to him whether he found food there or not. If he caught the cat out of doors he had good sport teasing her. And he always enjoyed that.
Jasper was bold and rowdy but very handsome. And Farmer Gable liked to look out of his window early on a bleak morning and see him in his bright blue suit frisking in and out of the bare trees. Still Farmer Gable knew well enough that Jasper Jay was a rogue.
“He reminds me of a bad boy,” Johnny Gable’s father said one day. “He’s mischievous and destructive, and he’s forever screeching and whistling. But there’s something about him that I can’t help liking. Maybe it’s because he always has such a good time.”
“He steals birds’ eggs in summer,” Johnny remarked.
“I’ve known boys to do that,” his father answered. And Johnny said nothing more just then. Perhaps he was too busy watching Jasper Jay, who had flown into the orchard and was already breakfasting on frozen apples, which still clung to the bare trees.
When warm weather came, the rogue would fare better. Then, there was insects and fruit for him. And though, Jasper took his full fair share of Farmer Gable’s strawberries, currants and blackberries, he did him no small service by devouring moths that would have done harm to the grapes.
But in the fall Jasper scorned almost any food except nuts, which he liked more than anything else.
That is, if their shells were not too thick. Beechnuts and chestnuts and acorns suited him well. And he was very skillful in opening them. He would grasp a nut firmly with his feet and with a strong stab, split it with his strong bill. Johnny Gable could not crack a butternut with his father’s hammer quicker than Jasper could reach inside of a sweet beechnut.
Though Jasper hated to spend any of his time during the nutting season by doing much else except eat, he was so fond of nuts that he always hid away as many as he could in cracks and crevices, and buried them under the fallen leaves.
He was very much like the frisky squirrel in doing that. He believed in storing nuts for the winter. But, since he had no hollow tree in which to put them, it was only natural that he never succeeded in finding every one of his carefully hidden nuts. He left them in so many different places that he couldn’t possibly remember them all. Those that he lost often took root and grew into fine trees. And so Jasper Jay helped Farmer Gable in more ways than he knew.
But no doubt Jasper would have shrieked with laughter had anyone suggested such an idea to him.
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